Our guest blogger Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is expecting - and she's sharing her plan to ensure her daughter lives a body positive life.
The bond between mother and daughter is one I have seen exalted - and commercialized - for as long as I could remember. Your daughter is your “mini-me”, and the portrayal of that relationship has often felt fetishized. But when I found out I was expecting a girl, I was more fearful than excited.
The romanticized images are cute, but I’m afraid of the responsibility that accompanies mothering a daughter. I’m even more terrified that I am vastly under-qualified to teach her all she needs to know about body positivity when my own self-love journey is still in progress.
So much about life feels predetermined when you’re giving birth to a Black daughter. Much of what molds her socioeconomic experience will be present from birth.
So much about life feels predetermined when you’re giving birth to a Black daughter. Much of what molds her socioeconomic experience will be present from birth. And even if she doesn’t identify with her assigned gender, those qualities will impact how the world receives her. But I have decided to prioritize on one of few things I can control - fighting to raise a body-positive daughter.
I’ve heard too many stories from loved ones on ways their mothers “toxic interactions” led to a life of self-hate. It seems way too easy to pass insecurities and personal demons to my daughter. I’ve decided the best gift I can give are the tools of body positivity and unconditional love. And I’ve done some thinking about the ways to accomplish this.
I plan to prioritize reproductive empowerment long before menarche. As dramatic as it sounds, the messages of shame and disgust will be all around. The TV shows, jokes, and folklore of our society make women into punchlines. And being twice marginalized, waiting to see what she internalizes is a luxury we can’t afford.
The most essential ingredients in the cocktail of self-love will be information and transparency. I don’t think it’s necessary to hide the hurtful aspects of the world- there are too many of them. But by informing her of the intricate process that was required not only for her to exist but her body to function properly she will have a leg up. Once you see our existence as a miracle, it will be hard not to perceive everything that comes from it as amazing.
The hardest part of her journey will be what I have to do. Having these expectations of her means I must learn to model them in my words and action. I can’t teach self-love unless I learn to reach the milestone for myself.
I can’t teach self-love unless I learn to reach the milestone for myself.
Understanding that the stretch marks, sagging breast, and hyperpigmentation I experience are nothing compared to the process of bringing a new life into the world. But more importantly, embracing that I am not flawed because of these things. The perfect form is a myth, and I have every right to love myself with wear and tear. Self-love, when you have been “othered”, shouldn’t be revolutionary. It’s a birthright.
Reinforcing the beauty of diversity in oneself and others will be another vital piece of our journey towards body positivity. I don’t believe it’s possible to rip apart the “problem areas” in someone else without eventually allowing that same criticism to destroy your own self-image. The human body comes in a range of appearances and forms- most often, we choose to focus on its societal beauty. I will encourage appreciation and even vanity in her appearance, but instead of being anchored solely in her looks it should develop from the complexity of her entire self. She shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate herself like I am.
I don’t expect her journey to be quick or easy. There will be many experiences that hinder the lessons I’ve maps out for her. But that’s the beauty of it all- it’s her journey.
The stakes seem much higher this go’ round. Each kick and hiccup I feel for my unborn child serves as a reminder of what I am fighting for.
If we came into this world loving ourselves wholly, we would have nothing to aspire to. The path to body positivity and self-love is littered with challenges. But also, high levels of joy. The ability to unwaveringly love yourself despite what trends are happening in the beauty industry or the number on the scale is invaluable. It’s something I want not just for my daughter, but also for myself, and for everyone.
Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash.